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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Erik Goeddel: Meet One of the Future Mets

The New York Mets have had a tough go of it lately, having not posted a winning record since the 2008 season. Their way back to relevance will undoubtedly be aided by their young players, many of whom are still honing their craft in the minor leagues. One pitcher who appears to be part of the future solution is Erik Goeddel, who is getting close to getting his first summons to the Big Apple.

The right-handed Goeddel was a 24th-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2010. He was 2-0 with a 3.06 ERA in two seasons as a Bruin with all 45 of his appearances coming in relief.

In his first four years in the Mets’ system, the 25-year-old pitched exclusively as a starter, posting good numbers and advancing a level each season. He has reached Triple-A in 2014, and is working as a reliever for the Las Vegas 51s, returning to his collegiate roots and hoping it will help lead him to the majors.

During his professional career, Goeddel is a combined 18-19 with a 3.84 ERA and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He is off to a rough start with Las Vegas, going 1-1 with a 15.43 ERA in four games. However, his 2.1 innings is an incredibly small sample size and he has plenty of time to settle into his new team and role.

The hurler graciously agreed to answer some questions about his career prior to the start of spring training. Keep reading for more on this Mets prospect on the verge of the majors.

Erik Goeddel Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: Ken Griffey Jr. I think he was everyone’s favorite.  He was the best player in baseball for a little while, and nobody looked like they were having more fun playing baseball than he did.  He was fun to watch and a great player to idolize.

Can you talk a little bit about what your draft experience was like?: I had a rather unusual draft experience.  In the months leading up to the draft, I had talked to every organization except the Mets, and at UCLA, it is finals week during the draft.  Also, we made NCAA playoffs that year, so regionals ended Sunday night, and the first round of the draft was Monday, and the next few rounds Tuesday.  Since I still had finals to study for, and practice to go to, I was pretty busy. 
After practicing Monday and then watching the first round of the draft Monday night, I had to pull an all-nighter Monday night to finish a paper I had due on Tuesday.

Right when I finished the paper at about 6 a.m. and was maybe going to get a couple hours of sleep before the draft started back up, the Mets area scout Spencer Graham called me up and asked me all the pre-draft questions. This was the only contact I had ever had with the Mets.  So anyways, the draft starts and I get a bunch of calls from the White Sox asking if I'll sign in the third round for slot. I say yes and they draft somebody else anyways.  The same thing happens in the fourth round.  Then complete silence. I figure I had overpriced myself and will just go back to UCLA for my junior year.

So a couple hours later I head to practice, and while I’m getting changed in the clubhouse, my phone starts ringing, and its Spencer Graham again, and he says ‘Congratulations, the Mets have drafted you,’ and that was that.

What pitches do you throw and which do you think you need to work on the most?: I throw a fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup.  My fastball and curve are definitely my most consistent pitches.

I have been throwing them the same way since I was about 10 years old.  My slider and change, I changed how I throw them part way through the 2013 season. The new way of throwing them is definitely going to be better once I get the hang of it completely, but I still have to fine tune them a little and get them more consistent.

If you could back in time and change something about your career, or do it differently, what would that be, and why?: I would go back to when I was in high school and change my delivery.  I used to throw with maximum effort and jerk my whole body to fling my arm forward. I’m pretty sure that was the reason I blew out my elbow and basically missed three seasons rehabbing and recovering from surgeries.

What is your familiarity with baseball history?: Very familiar. My dad grew up a huge baseball fan and passed on a lot of that knowledge of the history of the game.

Who has been your most influential coach or manager?: I've been very lucky throughout my career and had a lot of great coaches.  But as crazy as it sounds, I'd say the most influential coach I've had was my little league minors coach I had when I was nine years old.  His name was Tom Tracy, and at the tryouts he saw that I had a good arm and drafted me first in the draft and made me a pitcher. It was the first time I had ever pitched, and playing on his team that year was when I really started liking baseball. He introduced me to pitching, and was the reason I became passionate about baseball at such a young age.

How much thinking/worry do you do about making the major leagues, especially now that you are getting very close?: I think about it a lot. I don't really worry about it, but the closer I get the more I want it. It’s a great way to stay motivated.

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